About Daniel Schmidt

Daniel Schmidt is the co-founder of doubleloop.app, a data platform for product iterations. He also designs mazes at mazestructure.com and writes at productlogic.org

Stoned Strategy

I started my college education with the belief that marijuana gave me special access to genius ideas. Every time I got high, I would experience what felt like creative breakthroughs. These intoxicated “aha!” moments fueled my fiery desire to study philosophy. I frantically tried to learn a vocabulary to express the magical nuggets inside my mind on the path to my rightful role as a philosopher-king.

I was wrong about marijuana. By the end of college I had painstakingly figured out one key thing:

Marijuana doesn’t give me better ideas, it just makes me more excited about the ideas I already have.

Suffering from intellectual whiplash, for a time I referred to marijuana as a “poison” that breeds delusion and narcissism.

As I get older, the volatile zig zags of my evolving belief system smooth out, taking the shape of more moderate, balanced views of how things work. I’ve concluded that

  1. marijuana boosts my creative productivity, but
  2. using it in this manner requires navigating a sneaky web of landmines.

By the end of this post, I’m going to explain my method for extracting the creative benefits of marijuana while avoiding the traps. The majority of people who use marijuana, I hypothesize, have net negative creative outcomes. By sharing my strategies, I’m hoping to help change this.

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Mazes as Mirrors of Creation

When I was a child, I drew mazes (like the one below) to “wow” people with complexity. A psychotherapist friend of my parents said I was externalizing my brain on paper. Others liken my maze drawings to intestines. I prefer the brain comparison.

There is a difference between creating for self-expression and creating with a purpose. When you create purely for self-expression, the reward is seeing something from your head outside in the world. The externalization is itself the end, regardless of its effect. When you’re creating with a purpose, in contrast, success depends on the outcome. With each iteration, you try to bend reality one step closer to your vision while adjusting your vision to your evolving understanding of reality.

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